12-15 Real estate

Taking some time to make your home feel cozy and welcoming can improve your chances of selling it in the winter. (Courtesy photo)

Back when I was a teenager and knew everything (or at least far more than my parents), I insisted on getting a Pontiac Sunbird as my first car because: A) I thought rear-wheel drive was super cool, and B) my parents were coldly unsympathetic to my pleas for a Corvette.

But in my first winter of driving I quickly discovered that being stuck helplessly in the snow on the side of the road was super uncool.

This time of year your listed property can stay as stuck in a snowbank as a used 1979 Sunbird with questionable tires—unless you take the right steps to sell during the winter and holiday months.

I may not know everything like I did when I was 17, but I have learned some tips on how to keep property sales from spinning out of control when the conditions are icy and snowy:

Sell the snow to snow bunnies

Don’t think of snow as the inconvenient, never-ending precipitation that cruelly forces you from your warm bed extra early so you can chisel your windshield just so you can see how painfully slowly your morning commute is grinding along. Think of snow like kids do… as beautiful, plentiful and free recreation material. That will help you list your home with words that attract snow lovers and help prospective buyers visualize how they can take advantage of the season.

For example, winter buyers often warm up to words like: “15 minutes to skiing and snowboarding.”

If you’re a homeowner reading the Laconia Daily Sun, chances are your property is in close proximity to Gunstock Mountain Resort, snowmobile and cross country skiing trails, ice fishing and other winter activities.

Location, location, location

If your home is in an urban area be sure to have your listing agent highlight how conveniently buyers can access life’s needs even when the weather is bad.

For example, many Laconia home are within walking distance of restaurants, food markets, coffee shops, convenience stores, fitness centers and more.

Feature quality photos from all seasons

If you’ve taken photos that show your property in different seasons, share them with your Realtor.

It is best to use high-quality equipment and have an experienced photographer take pictures of your home and land, like we do for clients at Roche Realty. But if you have decent pictures of the property that were taken in the spring, summer and fall, share them. A seasonal variety of listing photos can help buyers picture what their prospective new home looks like the rest of the year.

What to show when there’s snow

If your home has been on the market since there were leaves on the trees, ask your Realtor to update your listing description for wintertime. Highlight any cold-weather desirables like an updated roof, an attached garage, quality insulation, or a new water heater or HVAC system.

Don’t just say it’s cozy… make it cozy

The colder it is outside, the cozier it is inside… if you do things right.

Crank the heat a little higher when there’s a showing or open house. You might light some candles or even a crackling fire in the fireplace or woodstove if you have one. If you just happened to fry up some bacon and/or bake some cookies the morning of the open house, warm, comforting smells will permeate your home.

Also, consider spreading some welcome, warmth and cheer with potentially hypothermic visitors: set out some hot apple cider, tea or cocoa to enjoy as they visit the home that may soon be theirs.

Winterize your (open) house

Potential buyers brave the elements to arrive at your winter open house. Make sure your driveway, walkways and front porch are clear of snow and ice. Set out a doormat so visitors can wipe their feet before entering.

It’s also a nice touch to place rubber or plastic trays inside for slushy, snow-covered boots. Leave a pair of your own shoes there and visitors will get the idea.

This attention to detail demonstrates that you care about your house, which potential buyers will appreciate.

Decorate simply and strategically

Homes can show better during the holidays if decorated simply and strategically.

I’m sorry to be “Bah Humbug,” but when it comes to selling homes, that oversized Nightmare Before Christmas inflatable in the front yard is about as helpful as rear-wheel drive and bald tires on an icy road. And a Rockefeller Center-sized Christmas tree wedged under an eight-foot ceiling makes a living room look cartoonishly puny.

On the other hand, bright red and green poinsettias are an inexpensive and colorful touch. If you decorate with string lights, white lights are best because they’re the least distracting. And if you had to pick one just holiday decoration, make it a wreath on your front door. Wreaths can easily be customized—for example with a colorful bow—to match the personality of your home and create a classy, cheerful first impression for visitors.

I may not know everything like I (thought I) did when I was 17, but I do know this: Winter sales don’t have to spin out, and your listed home doesn’t have to be helplessly stuck in a snowbank all winter… because that’s super uncool.

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